USC Trojans handed distraction after Steve Sarkisian incident


Steve Sarkisian’s drunken outburst has given the Trojans a preseason distraction, even if an easy schedule to open the season will make it a non-issue despite Athletic Director Pat Haden’s anger towards the head coach.

Ranked eighth in the country heading into the 2015 season as favorites to win the Pac-12 title, the USC Trojans are counting down the days to the first Saturday of the season with optimism that this could be the best year for the program since the days of Reggie Bush and Pete Carroll.

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The school looking ahead to an easy tune-up game against Arkansas State to open up their season and enjoying positive headlines over the potential of the program to make a run at the Playoff if everything goes well for them down the road.

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Those positive headlines and optimism took a break over the weekend to be replaced with national attention towards head coach Steve Sarkisian getting just a bit too drunk at the school’s annual Salute to Troy fundraising event. Sarkisian using foul language and making inappropriate comments in between handed out some drunken trash talk to the likes of Notre Dame and Oregon among other rivals of the Trojans during a speech he didn’t even finish before being pulled off of the stage by AD Pat Haden.

To nobody’s surprise Sarkisian’s antics filled the headlines on Sunday and into Monday as a drunken head coach of a major program was bound to grab a foothold in the news cycle. The head coach giving himself the type of distraction that most coaches preach to their players to avoid from happening by placing the team straight into the national attention under a negative light.

Sarkisian has already apologized for his actions, releasing a statement in which he showed remorse for letting the program down in front of fans and letting the school as well as his players down in the process by his now infamous speech at Saturday’s event. Assuring everyone that a similar incident will never happen again after being seriously reprimanded by the school’s AD in Haden.

“I sincerely apologize to my players and staff and to our fans for my behavior and my inappropriate language at our kickoff event Saturday night,” the coach said in a statement on Sunday. via the school’s website. “I have a responsibility to all of them and I let them down. Pat Haden talked to me after the event about my actions and I assured him this will not happen again.”

With Sarkisian drawing attention and bad publicity from his speech, the pressure will be even further on the coach to deliver results for the Trojans this season. Blessed with one of the most talented rosters the school has had after years of NCAA sanctions, Sarkisian already needed to have a big season and now with the heat on him from Haden over his off the field behavior there will be an expectation that the head coach takes care of business or his job pressure could intensify if the on-field results are coupled with his off field disappointment in representing the school.

Haden also released a statement on Sunday, confirming that he had spoken with Sarkisian to let the head coach know that his drunken outburst was unacceptable. Expressing his disappointment at the way the coach represented himself in front of supporters of the program.

“I met with Coach Sarkisian and I expressed my disappointment in the way he represented himself and the University at our Salute To Troy event. While the details of our conversation will remain between us, I am confident he heard my message loud and clear.”

Haden’s statement on Sunday confirmed his displeasure with the way Sarkisian represented the school. Behavior that has cost some coaches their jobs in the past, which won’t happen with weeks until the season, but could place the coach on the hot seat if he doesn’t deliver wins to put his bad behavior at a team function in the past.

Even if the headlines will die down as soon as another news story hits the wire, Sarkisian’s controversy will certainly be an internal distraction in the final weeks of preparation for the September 5 opener against Arkansas State, a lucky opponent for the Trojans to have as if you were to have any unplanned distractions going into a season you would want to be playing a cupcake team to open up the schedule.

Playing Arkansas State and Idaho before opening conference play at home against Stanford, Sarkisian can put this behind him quickly with some wins, but even he knows the pressure could be on after his bad misstep.

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